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Many women think that when they are pregnant they need to stop wearing jeans. And if you’re one of those who love and just about live in their jeans, this could be a bit of a shock. But don’t despair, you won’t have to give up wearing jeans entirely. You’ll just need to make sure you get a pair which are specific to pregnancy.

Advances in fabric technology, research and innovation mean that the materials currently being used to develop maternity wear have more give and stretch than ever before, and this includes jeans. The fabric used in maternity clothing also has better recoil capabilities so that after stretching, the garment resumes its original shape and tension.

The baby’s growth, fluid retention and weight gain all mean that a pregnant mother’s shape is constantly changing, so it makes sense that the clothing she wears has to have the potential to accommodate these changes. Don’t feel as if you need to give up wearing your favourite fashion item just because your belly has expanded, or is going to.

When is the best time to buy a pair of maternity jeans?

Every woman and her pregnancy are unique. There is no specific period of gestation when all women will no longer fit into their usual clothing. But it is fair to say that women who have had a baby previously, tend to “show” earlier than those who are having their first pregnancy. This is because the abdominal muscles have already been stretched and aren’t quite as firm as they once were.

Some women continue wearing their non-pregnancy clothing well into their second trimester, especially if they favour loose fitting pants and skirts. Elasticised waists are very forgiving and accommodate a growing belly much better than those with firm waistbands. Even normal jeans can be worn for many months of pregnancy, especially if they are a low rider style and sit under the bump, rather than over the top of it. Pregnancy belly bands are an option of extending the wearability of normal jeans, rather than the maternity variety. But the zip and bulk of jeans does not generally sit underneath the belly band as well as trousers which are made from softer fabrics than denim.

Why are maternity jeans so popular?

Probably because of the same reasons that jeans are such a popular clothing choice. They look good and can be dressed up or down as the occasion demands it; they are comfortable and there are lots of different styles, colours and shapes to suit individual choice. They also give the right level of protection and warmth during the cooler months and if comfortable, can be worn from morning through to night.

The unique benefit of maternity jeans is that one pair can be worn throughout the whole pregnancy. This is because they are designed to stretch and adapt as the pregnancy advances. Maternity jeans come with adjustable, elastic waistbands which can “grow” as needed, to accommodate the mother’s enlarging belly.

They should feel firm but comfortable without any sensation of pressure. They should also give the feeling of security and that they are going to stay up, without constantly needing to be hoisted up because they are riding down.

What’s important to consider when I’m buying my maternity jeans?

  • If you can, try not to be influenced too much by the cost of the jeans. Often the better quality ones do cost more, but when broken down into a formula of cost per wear, they are well worth it.
  • Do your research, including looking on-line. There are heaps of different styles and cuts of maternity jeans, so don’t settle on the first ones you see. Be prepared to put in some effort – it will be worth it.
  • Avoid going shopping for maternity jeans when you’re feeling tired or it’s the end of a busy day. Make sure you’re not hungry, you’ve had some decent rest and you’re in the right frame of mind to make good shopping decisions.
  • Look for maternity jeans which have wide, comfortable waistbands with a good amount of stretch.
  • Ask the shop assistant for help. You may need to go up a size from your usual jeans sizing because your thighs and bottom are not the same size as when you aren’t pregnant. Don’t despair if this is the case. Weight gain during pregnancy is normal and has an evolutionary basis for providing fat stores to be used during lactation.
  • Some maternity jeans have double layered elastic tummy bands to eliminate the sensation of the band “cutting into” the mother’s tummy.
  • The denim used in maternity jeans has a higher ratio of spandex/Elastene mixed with the cotton twill. This is what gives them their necessary stretch, so they will feel different to the touch than normal jeans.
  • Some maternity jeans come with a lifetime guarantee. So if you are planning to have more than one baby, consider choosing a pair with this option.
  • Make sure you have a range of tunic styles, with longer line tops and jumpers to wear over your maternity jeans. As functional and essential as the elasticised panels are, they are not exactly the most attractive design element in a pair of maternity jeans.
  • Make sure your maternity jeans are long enough from waist to crotch. Some women are longer or shorter in this region and different jeans provide different cut and comfort options.

What’s the best way to wash my maternity jeans?

When laundering your maternity jeans, turn them inside out for the wash cycle and use cold water rather than hot. This will help to prolong the life of your jeans as the spandex/Elastene fibres will deteriorate more quickly in hot water. If your maternity jeans are black or dark blue, you may also want to consider using a specific detergent for dark clothing so the colour is retained in the fibres. Similarly, hanging them in the shade, rather than direct sunlight will help to preserve them.

What are my choices when it comes to buying maternity jeans?

Just because you are pregnant doesn’t mean you have to wear daggy jeans.

There has been a revolution in jeans styles for everyone and the range of maternity jeans is no exception.

  • Boot cut, flared, skinny and Capri styles are always popular and there is a diverse choice.
  • Leggings which look like jeans but have the comfort of traditional leggings are also popular.
  • Different colours are available, so don’t feel you’re restricted to buying plain blue denim. Just remember though that the darker the colour, the more slimming they will appear.
  • Some maternity jeans have a mock fly and fake pockets so they retain a stylish appearance.
  • Just like normal jeans, maternity jeans come in different lengths; Short, Regular, Long and Extra Long when it comes to leg lengths.
  • Some maternity jeans have a wide elasticised panel which stretches completely over the belly. Others sit low underneath the mother’s belly. Depending on how comfortable you feel and your personal choice will determine what style is right for you. Some pregnant mothers feel too “exposed” if their belly is not covered by their jeans and they prefer styles which cover their belly.
  • In the summer months a low cut jean will be cooler to wear.
  • Look for a pair with soft denim. Pregnancy is not the time to try and “wear in” a pair of uncomfortable, stiff jeans. If they are too tight around your belly you won’t feel comfortable and all you’ll want to do is take them off.
  • Remember, denim does “give” after an hour or so. So buying jeans which are initially a little snug across the bottom and thighs is probably a good idea. If in doubt, keep your tags and receipts for a size exchange.
  • Well cut maternity jeans not only look better, they will feel better too. This is why it’s so important to try on a few pairs and see what suits your individual shape and size.
  • Consider taking a friend with you for a second opinion. Buying jeans can create unique challenges and sharing the load with an empathetic friend can make all the difference.
  • If you are buying your maternity jeans in your first or second trimester, be sure the ones you choose have lots of stretch for your tummy when it grows.

Remember that it can take a few months or longer for most women to return to their pre-pregnant weight and size. You will probably find that you still get some wear out of your maternity jeans for a while after you have your baby. Simply because they are comfortable and have the expanded waist option.